Congratulations on making it to another summer break! Hopefully your hard work these past two semesters has paid off and you’ve got some opportunities to look forward to in the next three or so months. Even if you’re someone that is no longer enrolled in school, there’s certainly something different about summer, isn’t there? Almost all of us ring in the summer with an optimism that we haven’t felt since the new year.

This season is a chance to take a break from the mundane, establish a new routine, travel to new places, serve in ways that grow and challenge you… the list is practically endless and the possibilities are unique to each of us.

Summer, however, can bring about a temptation to shut our brains off, neglect what is truly good for us, and catch something that I like to call “deserve-itis.” “Deserve-itis” is contracted when one falls under the belief that their hard work permits them the right to relax/unwind/take a break in whatever way they want for an extended period of time. (Some people, like your parents’ friend who shares way too many articles, memes, and videos on Facebook, might call this “entitlement” – but we’ll refrain from using that word.)

While you should absolutely celebrate and reward yourself for your accomplishments, this often unfortunately means excessively binge-watching Netflix, aimlessly perusing social media, and shutting ourselves in from a world that we should be experiencing.

So, what are some ways that we can practically enjoy our summer as a break but also an opportunity to feel more fulfilled throughout? I have a few ideas.

Write a loved one.

In the fast-paced, social media-driven world that we inhabit, the power of written word perhaps holds more meaning than ever before. Sure, a thoughtful text or email has its place, but we’re all being flooded with texts and/or emails on a daily basis. Take the time to write someone that you’re close to about what you appreciate about them, how they’ve made a positive impact on your life, or encourage them. I think you’ll be surprised by how much it means to them.

Read through a book with a friend.

TV shows and movies are great fun to discuss and analyze, especially with friends that share mutual interests. Take one or two of those friends, find a book that you’ll mutually enjoy, and establish routine discussions about the book. Discuss character development, themes, and why certain aspects of the book made you feel a certain way. Just don’t cheat by reading the Wikipedia synopsis!

Make something homemade. 

This can be anything you want it to be! Here’s a few ideas:

  • A photo collage from all of the adventures you went on this summer
  • A painting or drawing of something that’s special to you
  • A piece of furniture or a sign that you can add to your living space
  • Find an amazing recipe for French toast (or any other dish) and become a pro at making it

Whatever you decide to create, make sure it’s something that you’ll enjoy along the way and will gain some personal satisfaction in the end result.

Routinely exercise. 

Exercise is something that looks different for everyone. The key is finding the line between pushing yourself without overextending yourself to the point of potential injury. If you’re not sure what that looks like for you, start with some basic routines and gradually work your way up. Whatever you do, try to exercise a few times every week. You will likely feel more focused, energized, and confident as a result.

Be phone-less every now and then.

Out to coffee with a friend? Dinner with the family? Whatever the case may be, I challenge you to leave your phone behind for the hour or so that you’re going to be in the company of others. One of the best gifts that you can give someone is your undivided attention. They will appreciate it and you won’t feel as distracted or separated from the situation. This may be a little difficult at first, but learning to embrace the awkward silences and how to create meaningful conversations are valuable life skills that will make you a better friend and listener.

Regardless of what the summer holds for you, my hope is that you will integrate practices and disciplines that you will find rewarding and beneficial to your well-being. Treat yourself (shout out to all fellow Parks and Rec fans!) to opportunities that improve you and get you closer to the person you’ve always wanted to be.

We’ll see you back in the fall!

UMHB strives to not only equip students with an education for life, but also to give every student the experience of a lifetime. We invite you to check out our website for more information, or stop by for a visit to see why UMHB would be a great fit for you!